Simply put, the microbiome is the vast colony (an ecosystem really) of bacterial cells that live in the body. Each and every living animal and human on the planet has a microbiota colony (or microbiome) living within them. This colony grows, develops and colonizes over time and begins when a baby is born and first exposed to her or his mother’s vaginal bacteria.
Our human genome is our unique genetic makeup which is 99.9% identical across the human race. Another way of putting it is that every human on the planet is 99.9% identical, genetically. The .01% of difference accounts for our physical difference (hair, eyes, etc.).
We have in fact, however, a second genome: the microbiome. Science is showing us that our second genome is potentially more powerful and influential over our quality of life and health than our “first” genome. The real differentiating factor between people is NOT human gene difference after all, but rather microbiome difference. Twins for example can be genetically identical and have vastly divergent microbiota composition that can account for their differences in health and quality of life wellness.
Although it takes generations for human genes to change and adapt, the microbiome can change drastically within 24 hours based on factors such as stress, medication, antibiotics, sleep levels and most importantly the food we eat. What is the optimal food to eat to nurture and fortify your microbiome? You guessed it: fermented foods.
Fermented foods contain a diverse bevy of probiotics, live bacteria that survive the trip to your digestive tract and get to work, conferring health benefits to you, their host. Think of them as backup support to the existing microbiota that dwells in your gut. When taking steps to intentionally eat for gut health, both diversity of bacterial strains and frequency of intake are important. Less important--and actually not recommended-- is consuming unnaturally large quantities of these foods. “A pickle a day” (along with a few other things for diversity’s sake) is what the probiotic lifestyle is all about.
We give you some simple and yummy how-to tips in Creative Ways To Eat Fermented Vegetables with Every Meal.